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Posted at 2:17 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

Bill Daley: center of attention

By Jonathan Capehart

If you want to get to know the background of former Commerce Secretary William Daley -- President Obama's incoming chief of staff -- read Howard Fineman's profile of him just up on the Huffington Post. But if you want to understand Daley's inner core, read the prescient op-ed he penned for The Post that ran on Dec. 24, 2009. Upon reading it you'll agree with Fineman's assessment that while Daley is an "ancestral Democrat" he is not "an ideologue of the left or right."

The question is whether the party is prepared to listen carefully to what the American public is saying. Voters are not re-embracing conservative ideology, nor are they falling back in love with the Republican brand. If anything, the Democrats' salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center.

All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party's most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans -- and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan.

For liberals to accept that inescapable reality is not to concede permanent defeat. Rather, let them take it as a sign that they must continue the hard work of slowly and steadily persuading their fellow citizens to embrace their perspective. In the meantime, liberals -- and, indeed, all of us -- should have the humility to recognize that there is no monopoly on good ideas, as well as the long-term perspective to know that intraparty warfare will only relegate the Democrats to minority status, which would be disastrous for the very constituents they seek to represent.

The party's moment of choosing is drawing close. While it may be too late to avoid some losses in 2010, it is not too late to avoid the kind of rout that redraws the political map. The leaders of the Democratic Party need to move back toward the center -- and in doing so, set the stage for the many years' worth of leadership necessary to produce the sort of pragmatic change the American people actually want.

With his West Wing appointment, it's now Daley's job to ensure that the move back to the center that he wrote about in 2009 and that has been evident since the lame-duck session sticks.

By Jonathan Capehart  | January 6, 2011; 2:17 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Daley needs to tell the working classes who are unemployed why he promoted Nafta along
with Rahm and Slick Willie.

Posted by: umt123 | January 6, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Daley needs to tell the working classes who are unemployed why he promoted Nafta along
with Rahm and Slick Willie.

Posted by: umt123 | January 6, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth are you talking about ideology? This is about character.

Anyone who has sold out to Wall Street, Big Defense and Big Pharma the way Mr. Daley has plainly has none.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 6, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

What does Daley have to do to prove his street-cred with liberals? He worked his butt off to get Gore and Obama elected.

So, he actually has experience working with business. Wow. He must be a flaming conservative.

Posted by: slatt321 | January 6, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

How about his credibility with centrists, slatt321?

Our knees don't jerk over partisan ideology. We evaluate politicians on their character, trustworthiness and good faith (or lack thereof). And any one of them who rakes in millions shuttling back and forth between government and lucrative corporate sinecures fails that test. Pols like this are the problem, not the solution.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 6, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Hear that Daley is pretty good at stealing elections.

Posted by: drowningpuppies | January 6, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

So Daley should take a vow of poverty? Would that prove his 'character?' If you're going to judge our nation's leaders by their lack of business interests you're in for a whole lotta aggravation.

I'm not a supporter of Obama's or Daley's politics but I am irritated by ideological cataracts.

Some of you who think you're centrists are just bent.

Posted by: slatt321 | January 6, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

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